Keeping It Fresh: Being Original About Endangering the Hero

I'm about to write a scene in which the hero is captured by bad guys and interrogated after which he is surely to be killed if he doesn't do something remarkable or get himself rescued. 

I'm considering not even doing the scene because it has been done so many times.  The possibility of making this kind of scene fresh is almost nil.  What do you think? Should we discard certain set pieces as overdone, or keep on struggling to make them original (somehow)?  Jack Bauer has pretty much exhausted the possibilities.

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Just remember Houdini--no, really. He got himself out of remarkable situatons using nothing but his intellect and his agility.
Seems to me if the scene is necessary to the story, you have to write it, no? And if it's not necessary, then no worries, yes?

That said, I think that rather than worrying about making a stock scene fresh, the main concern should be to make it true to your characters and your story.
Who is Jack Bauer?
Readers like these scenes. More important: they are tests for the character. He has something to prove about himself, or learn about himself, or learn about life and other people.
I recall that almost all of Dick Francis' oeuvre depended on putting his protagonists into extreme situations, so punishing that invariably the message that a good man must suffer and sacrifice himself for others comes through loud and clear. Add to that the fact that the protagonists were all ordinary men and unlikely heroes, and we are encouraged to think we, too, can be better, more unselfish people if we try.
Well, the queen and queen mother loved his books. :)
Not sure what you mean by "fresh." Basically all stories have been told.
Jack Bauer is the central character in the show "24".
Karen's advice is right on. If you need it, you need it.

Here's my thing: This scene is THE scene I looked forward to in every one of John D.Macdonald's Travis McGee books. There was always a scary bad guy. He always got a hold of Travis near the end. And Travis always used his wit and strength and gile to escape and deal the bad guy his just desserts. It's a formula. It's expected. But John D. found a way to make it new and exciting 20 different times. I loved each one and so did millions of his fans.

In The Big Sleep, is there a better build-up of tension than when Marlowe is out in LA's San Gabriel Valley orange groves, waiting for a gunfight with Canino, the bad guy's bad guy?

For IJ, who really doesn't know these things: Jack Bauer is the hero of "24" a long-running TV series.
Love the Travis McGee books. Hard to remember the details of those escapes, though. Lots of girls involved, iirc.
He was your kind of wise-ass, I think.
I don't mean he did a Houdini every time.
You know, Jack brings up an interesting point. I'm a sucker for every Jason Bourne novel to come out. I know in reality none of the derring-do Bourne does is even remotely possible. But I want to read it. And savor it.

Same is true for the James Bond novels and flicks. All smoke and mirrors. But what a lovely way to spend a few hours enjoying yourself.
It's all been done, but what you want to avoid is the expected solution. Whatever Jack Bauer would do, do the opposite. What are the bad guys up to? Are they scary or incompetent? How would a real person escape such a situation (assuming they would)?
I think you have to include the scene if it's pertinent to the storyline - just don't let him come out of it without a hair out of place!

I prefer heroes who don't always get out unscathed, who perhaps have to compromise on their integrity, play dirty to win.

I remember a scene from the 2nd Bourne film, where Bourne fights a guy in the man's living room and there is such an air of desperation about his actions that suggests he really is fighting for his life!

Sometimes, in fiction, the 'hero' comes across as though you KNOW he's going to get out OK, but this was different - certainly more true to life, I'd imagine.

That's just my tuppence-worth!
Hey, folks, thanks for all the good feedback. You've encouraged me to go ahead with the scene.


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